English Cemetery Malaga
Avenida de Pries (opposite the bullring)
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 9.30 am to 2 pm. Sunday: 10 am to 1 pm.
The English Cemetery is located in an upmarket Malaga neighbourhood.
From 1831 onwards, non-Catholic Englishmen were buried in this ‘Cementerio Inglés’. The last burial was in 2004.
Nowadays, only urns are accepted, due to lack of space.
The creation of the cemetery was the initiative of the British Consul, William Mark, who lived in Malaga from 1824 to 1836.
To his horror, he discovered that non-Roman Catholics could only be buried in a vertical position on the beach, with grim consequences. Bodies were washed away to sea and sometimes washed up on the beach again, or were eaten by animals.
After years of lobbying, the consul finally received permission in 1831 from the Malaga authorities to establish a cemetery outside the city centre.
One of the first graves was for the liberal Robert Boyd, executed in Malaga for taking up arms during the 1831 uprising. Boyd participated in General José Maria Torrijos’ ill-fated expedition to overthrow King Ferdinand VII. Through betrayal by a presumed ally, the expedition failed and the participants were executed.
Boyd’s grave is adorned with shells and this tradition persisted for a long time.
You will see a lot of these remarkable ‘shell graves’ in the old part of the cemetery, but you will also find many graves with headstones, tombs and graves enclosed with wrought iron gates. The many small tombs, also decorated with shells, are the graves of children.
The name English Cemetery should not be taken too literally as people of many different nationalities are buried here, Spaniards included.
The 42-man crew of the German Navy ship ‘Gneisenau’, which sank just outside the harbour of Malaga in 1900, also found their final resting place here.
Until 1904, maintenance of the cemetery was funded by the British government.
When this grant was discontinued, the graveyard fell slowly but surely into disrepair.
Today, the foundation for the preservation of the cemetery relies on donations and volunteers, but it is an almost impossible task to maintain the 8,000 square metres of land, divided into five terraces.
Graves are subsiding, tombstones are broken and visitors are warned that the site may only be accessed at their own risk.
The overall effect is one of mild dilapidation but it is precisely that which gives it its particular charm.
There is also a small church at the site where services are still held.
You can find a souvenir shop in the former porter’s lodge, restored in 2005